Hundreds chanted Breonna Taylor’s name Saturday as they marched from Riverfront Park to the Spokane County Courthouse.
During the event, a 15-year-old boy was arrested and Nazis, at least one of whom was armed with a baton, yelled at the crowd.
The Black Lives Matter protest, organized partly by Occupy Spokane, was a response to a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to file murder charges against the police who shot and killed Taylor after they executed a no-knock search warrant as she slept.
“Our people for 400 years have just been mowed over,” said Kurtis Robinson, president of the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP and executive director of the nonprofit I Did The Time. “America is in a place where we are getting a real invitation to change. America has not yet been as great as she’s supposed to be.”
Another Black speaker said he couldn’t know what happened before Taylor died, but if the premise of a search is wrong, the outcome is wrong.
The crowd applauded.
As the group marched, it chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “Say her name, Breonna Taylor” and, “No justice, no peace. No racist police.” Police on bicycles trailed behind the group.
Along the march to the courthouse, which protesters found surrounded by temporary fencing and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies in riot gear, the crowd passed a group of about five self-identifying Nazis who called themselves “proud racists.” They held posters with swastikas and wore swastika pins.
They yelled, “Blue lives matter” to the bike police, “White lives matter” to the crowd and, “Hell yeah, Trump” to each other. One self-identifying Nazi, Eddie McBride, said he did not believe the Holocaust happened, but if it had it would’ve been justified. He added that Taylor deserved to die.
A video taken by protester Aodhan Brown at 2:46 p.m. by Cedar Coffee shows one protester yelling at Spokane police officers on bicycles, “Where’s your mask? Where’s your mask?” The bicycle police were not wearing masks at the time.
An officer can be heard responding, “You’re going to get arrested. You’ll go to jail. You’ve had your warning.”
Just after 2:55 p.m. by the Public Safety Building, Spokane police arrested a man and a 15-year-old boy who were marching. Witnesses said the boy had thrown a piece of paper at police.
Several witnesses said the man, who police identified as Justice Forral, 28, had been passing out fliers that read “Donate to Shelters” and listed products useful to homeless shelters and their addresses.
According to a Spokane Police Department news release, Forral had been continually jumping in front of police officers’ bicycles “and/or attempting to cause the bike officers to wreck.” Police warned the man several times, the release said.
Lt. Dan Walters said the man was charged on suspicion of obstructing a law enforcement officer. Witnesses said they didn’t see what led to his arrest but heard commotion before they saw him handcuffed.
Erik Ronningen, with his teen son Kade, was standing in front of the man who was arrested. As police detained him, his papers “went flying,” Ronningen said.
“So we were picking them up because, you know, you don’t litter,” Ronningen said.
Kade then crumpled up one of the fliers and threw it at a police car, Ronningen said. Police immediately, “swept him up” and arrested him, all in under 2 minutes, without saying much, Ronningen said.
Michele Bennington, a protester who said she watched Kade’s arrest, said Kade’s little sister was crying and identified him as her brother. An officer told the girl as she cried, “You shouldn’t throw things at police,” Bennington said.
Just before 5 p.m., Ronningen was not aware of his son’s charge. Walters said he was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct. Ronningen said around 5 p.m. officers contacted him and let him know his son would be released from detainment in a few minutes.
“He’s a kid who doesn’t know how to express the frustration at the justice system,” Ronningen said. “The cops are just demonstrating that they have zero patience and zero ability to react to a situation in a way that makes sense. That’s why we’re at the protest and why we’re asking for change.”
Ronningen said he was disappointed in his son for not behaving better, but mostly frustrated with the police.
“He should’ve known better and they should’ve been way more reasonable,” he said. “You could tell they were looking for a fight and took every chance they got.”
When the group of protesters returned to the Big Red Wagon, Jada Richardson, a Black high school senior, was one of the speakers who took the mic.
She’d stopped by the Nazis earlier, but shook her head and walked away before she spoke up.
“I just wanted to ask them,” she told the crowd, “what did we do to you?”
Richardson pointed to Black people constructing buildings, cooking for white families, breastfeeding white children, teaching white children and raising white children for generations.
She called out Chief Craig Meidl for not standing with Black Lives Matter protesters.
“If they killed Breonna, why won’t they kill Jada? Why won’t they kill Kiantha?” she asked, referring to Kiantha Duncan, vice president of the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP.
“What is the price and what is the value of a Black life?” Richardson asked the crowd. “We don’t deserve to die.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.